Deconstructing Antipsychiatry: Conclusions

As the introduction of PBM so clearly states, “much like a lawyer in a courtroom, this book in essence ‘makes a case’.” But for those sincerely seeking to learn the truth, PBM cannot stand on its own. To carry forward the analogy, we need to add, at a minimum, opposing council, rebuttal, and a judge or jury to weigh the testimony.

Patients who have been victimized or harmed in the past by psychiatric practice, whether rooted in malice, manipulation, ignorance or bad luck, have done an invaluable service and have helped overturn unjust and abusive practices of the past. Those courageous people who continue to do so to this day constantly remind us that we are still too far away from where we want to be.

Patients, families, advocates, journalists, and others who have brought these stories forward, identified structural flaws and promoted changes, who critically but openly have engaged with the broader mental health community, have similarly helped move practice forward, to open the eyes of those who need them opened, and have thereby improved the lives of other patients. As have those who have told other stories about mental health and treatment, the impact on their lives of these very real illnesses, how their lives have sometimes been improved, sometimes imperfectly, with treatment. As have those who have fought to reduce stigma, make it easier for people to come forward, and to raise the level of public conversation on this topic to unprecedented levels.

Those in the antipsychiatry movement are not to be counted amongst those who have helped. They seek not to improve psychiatric practice, but destroy it. They deny the very nature of mental illness, dissuading people from coming forward and obtaining treatment that could improve their lives. They do not engage with the broader community, but reject criticism, and retreat within an echo chamber of their own making, recycling the same examples and arguments ad nauseum.

In PBM, we have a holistic, broadly-based representative of the antipsychiatry genre. It carries the trappings of rigorous knowledge: the language, references, methodologies, and ostensible blessing of an esteemed university. Yet beneath this carefully constructed façade lies a one-sided, overzealous polemic.

Not content to advocate for change, more oversight, etc., PBM takes the audacious step of claiming with absolute logical certainty that psychiatry is without any redeeming quality and must be annihilated. The ludicrousness of this overreaching attempt is revealed in its reliance on numerous overly-simplistic and fallacious arguments.

Yet, irresponsibly but predictably, no viable alternative, no concrete solution, nothing with the slightest chance of actually happening is offered instead. We are left only with a simplistic “good vs. evil” paradigm intended only to deliver recruits to an extremist movement.